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‘Living’ roofs take over City Centre

Published: 26th July 2011

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Roof space on the new Business School-Student Hub is planted with shrubs

YOU could be forgiven for not noticing immediately, but a large section of Manchester City Centre just got a lot greener.

Construction has recently finished on three large-scale ‘living’ green roofs on some of Oxford Road’s buildings, helping to create the highest concentration of green roofs in a City Centre area of this size in the UK.

The new green roofs have been built on Manchester Metropolitan University’s All Saints and new Business School buildings, and the Whitworth Art Gallery.

These will add to the four green roofs that can also be found on the University of Manchester’s Business School, ASK’s First Street building, Bruntwood’s number one New York Street and BDP’s Piccadilly Basin offices.

Climate change

The roofs will help to combat climate change in the city as well as providing important financial and social benefits.

Councillor Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Environment is delighted by the many benefits the roofs will bring: “The roofs don’t just look pretty, they serve a real business purpose and the financial benefits are bigger than you may think. As well as reducing heating bills as result of improved insulation, the roofs also cool the building in summer, reducing air conditioning costs.

“Green roofs also protect against the elements, increasing the life span of the building by at least double.”

Peter Stringer, Special Projects Manager at Red Rose Forest believes the roofs can solve some of the problems large modern cities face: “Green roofs have an immediate positive impact on our environment. They stop rain getting to the ground which can help to reduce the causes of flash flooding.

Urban heat

“They absorb the sun’s rays and reflect heat, lowering the overall temperatures in our towns and cities which are becoming more and more vulnerable to the Urban Heat Island effect. The beautiful greenery also absorbs harmful pollution as well as providing important habitats for birds and insects, in particular bees.

“Plus, green spaces in our cities are limited. Green roofs are a highly original way of creating this much needed space. Greenery helps us reconnect with nature and is well known to improve psychological wellbeing and inspire everyone that sees them.

Manchester Metropolitan University Environment Manager Dr John Hindley said: "This project fits perfectly with our written commitment to increase biodiversity in and around our campuses.

"I believe we have the largest area of green roofs in Manchester, so we're proud of that but there is much more to do."

Students at the University of Manchester will study the impact of the roofs and publish results in 2012.

Green roofs don’t only apply to Oxford Road. ‘Little Green Roofs’ is an innovative project from Red Rose Forest who work with communities in Manchester to turn the roofs of small, uninhabited, communal buildings into natural green spaces. To date the project has created 10 green roofs including allotment sheds, two primary school storage containers and a church roof.

The Green Roof project is a partnership between Red Rose Forest, Manchester City Council, The University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and Corridor Manchester, with additional funding provided by INTERREG IVB and MWH.

Contact information

For media enquiries or images please contact Ian White in the Press Office on: 0161 872 1660 or email:

Red Rose Forest is a leading environmental regeneration initiative and the Community Forest for central and western Greater Manchester. We are a partnership of Natural England, the Forestry Commission, the Metropolitan Boroughs of Bolton, Bury, Trafford and Wigan and the Cities of Manchester and Salford. Over forty years we are working to develop well-wooded, multipurpose landscapes to transform a large part of Greater Manchester into a greener, healthier and more satisfying place to live, work and invest. At the heart of our strategy is the involvement of a wide partnership of local communities, businesses and other partners in the environmental, social and economic regeneration of the area. For more information visit

Corridor Manchester is the first partnership of its kind in the UK. It brings together Manchester City Council, the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to build on the partners’ investments in the 243 hectare area running south from St Peter's Square to Whitworth Park along Oxford Road, Manchester. The partnership is committed to generating further economic growth and investment in the knowledge economy for the benefit of the city region.